Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Internet access hard to find

Coober Pedy, south of Alice Springs, very much in the middle of Australia. This is a quick message to let y'all know that we are fine and from today much warmer! Parry Beach, just west of Denmark was beautiful. The last warm weather was experienced in Mason Bay, west of Esperance. We found it just short of paradise before we ran into some bad hazards in the form of bees, lightning, rain and strong winds the next day, to the point that we thought the roof of the campertrailer would blow off during the night! Next to us was a nice family who got stung twice. Then we went camping at Wharton (Duke of Orleans Bay), east of Esperance, where we stayed two nights. Several National Parks were closed due to fires (caused by long spell of drought and then lightning). Then the roads were closed due to heavy rainfall and the temperature dropped from 44 degrees to 14..... We drove along a road that was still open but should have been closed. There were puddles more than axle deep, sand and heavy mud and a few times we were not even sure if we would get stuck in the middle of a large mud lake. Several times we had to divert into the bush to avoid deep water which was murky, so it was anyone's guess how deep it was. When we finally hit the bitumen again after about 6 hours, we saw only one car, coming the other way. So it was a real test for man and machinery but we are very happy with both. Fuel use has settled at 12.5 l/100 km and 1l/30 km LPG.
The Eyre Bird Observatory was next on the list, an interesting and nice experience. But we kept having strong winds and cold weather (socks, thermals and more in bed!) while I kept looking for my beany, and this is in the middle of summer in Australia!!!
Finally, in Ceduna (South Australia) we had enough, the weather report said snow in Victoria, 12 degrees in South Australia, so we cut through part of the desert and the Gawler Ranges and arrived in Coober Pedy today after driving another 850 km, most of it on rough corrogated roads with many sandy spots. Last night we saw huge sand dunes and lots of kangaroos plus some camels and we decided to spend the night next to a salt lake. We have some great picturers, but cannot download at the moment; wireless routers are still on the wishlist of every internet access point we have found sofar. We plan to stay one extra day here and then head east, more gravel roads, via Lake Eyre and the Flinders Ranges, to continue to Adelaide to do some errants.
Good news was the receipt of the new lease contracts which we had asked them to mail to Esperance; we signed for another 10 years and mailed the papers back to Perth. It means that for the next couple of years we will still be lease holders until we can hand over the lease.
Coober Pedy is a very strange place; opal mining has made this town and half of the houses are underground, they told us. It gets very hot here in summer (except now) the record stands at 57 degrees (I would also go underground at that sort of heat!
Problems? Of course, there are always a few. The electric brakes on the trailer would not work and I found out that the 6 brake lights (4 on the Cruiser, 2 on the trailer, plus the electric brake controller) were too much for the fuse of 10 Amp. So I removed two brake light globes on the Cruiser. Today the immobiliser failed to start the car, the second unit helped out, so we must have a bad battery or a faulty switch. Sand and dust has been a daily problem, particularly on the bad roads and especially when camping next to the sand dunes last night. The central locking system does not like bad roads and is failing to unlock......Daan????
There are little things that are not practical in the trailer and we are making a list for the manufacturer. Another unexpected problem was mud in the pad locks, especially the one that locks the coupling! Flapping canvas and squeaking frame poles still need sorting out. We are also trying out the best way to fold the two folding chairs, they sit fantastic and are absolutely hopeless to fold and store. The UHF radio is magic and the new CD player even takes bad roads without skipping.
We have already met lots of interesting people, mostly young ones from Europe but also many "grey nomads" like us. In Ceduna we met a Dutch couple from Hellevoetsluis, who have come to Australia for the 8th time in the last 7 years and have travelled almost every major and minor road; they have seen more of the continent than most Australians.
We will keep trying to download pictures as soon as we have an opportunity.

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